Unions Slapped for Not Obeying Temporary Restraining Order Granted to American

The fight between American and the TWU/IAM unions representing mechanics and fleet service workers continues to get worse. Though American was able to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing the mechanics from slowing down the airline, statistics show that things have not improved. American went back to court last week to force the unions’ hands, and the judge quickly agreed. Anytime you go back to court, the relationship frays further, so this certainly won’t help resolve the long-term issues. But whether this actually solves the problem or not in the short-term remains to be seen. So far, there’s not enough data to say if things are improving.

I first wrote about the escalating fight back in June when the airline’s operation was suffering more than it normally does. No, American’s poor operation isn’t entirely due to labor action, but the judge in the case agreed that it was clear that a slowdown was making things worse. A TRO was issued to prevent the unions from coordinating any sort of job action as part of their negotiations.

Back to Court, Armed With Numbers

What has happened since then? Nothing good. American laid out its case suggesting that the unions were not obeying the TRO as follows.

  • Last year, mechanics completed approximately 78 percent of their nightly tasks. Before the court issued the TRO, productivity had dropped to 70.6 percent. Since the TRO, productivity has dropped even further to 70.0 percent.
  • There is a list of open MELs (minimum equipment list items). These are minor things that aren’t working on an airplane, but since they’re not critical, airplanes can still fly passengers, at least for a time. The list of open items averaged 435 during the last two summers. Between May 20 and June 13 of this year, that sat higher at 526. As of July 8, it had spiked to 561. Even more damning is that the number of write-ups has remained steady, so work just isn’t being completed.
  • Each morning at 7am, there is a measure of the number of aircraft out of service for maintenance issues (AOS). The average for the past two summers was 42, and American has set a target of 35. Before the TRO, this had spiked to 54.5. As of July 9, it had barely declined to 53.8 on average.

Those overall numbers are telling, but I’ve always struggled with proving a coordinated job action in a case like this. After all, it’s like when a witness says something in court and the other side objects. The judge may say it’s stricken from the record and the jury should disregard… but the jury definitely heard it and can’t really forget. In this case, it seems pretty clear that if there was any coordination before, it wouldn’t be hard for individual union members to carry on the work without actually following orders to actually do it. If I’m a mechanic and the union tells me to stop, I know why the union is telling me that, and it might not change my behavior. How can a judge really rule that something is coordinated if there’s no evidence. Well, in this case, there is evidence.

The Philadelphia Overtime Ban

Looking at some of the specific examples given in the court filings, it seems hard to refute that this wasn’t coordinated as some level. I won’t bother you with all the examples, but let’s just look at one week in Philly when the mechanics suddenly decided that they would take no overtime.

Data via American Airlines court filing

There was one shift on July 3 where the number of qualified mechanics wasn’t available, so I left that out. And the second shift on the 2nd wasn’t shown in the data. But the point is pretty clear. Not one line mechanic accepted an overtime shift between July 1 and July 7 despite there being a large pool of mechanics available.

You might think “well, it was the 4th of July and people wanted off,” but history doesn’t show that to be the case, and it certainly wouldn’t matter earlier in the week. Overtime pays well, and it pays even better on a holiday. It would be one thing if the numbers were down, but this is a complete elimination of overtime being taken. If that’s not enough, a manager overhead people talking on June 29 saying that there was going to be an overtime ban that week. This one looks pretty clear.

The Judge Agrees With American

Short of actually resolving the contract, how can American actually get the operation back on track? Well, the airline says it didn’t ask the judge to find the unions in contempt, because it doesn’t want damages. It just wants this to stop. So it asked for — and was granted — a modification to the TRO to force the following.

  • Senior union leaders have to conduct in-person meetings with overnight line mechanics and union officials to “communicate a sincere and emphatic respect for the requirements of the [TRO].” It also requires them to tell the mechanics to return to normal behavior or be subject to fines by the union.
  • If those mechanics and union officials can’t attend the meetings, senior leadership of the union has to call those people to convey the message. They must also record a video with the message and post it to a dedicated webpage.
  • The union has to post the newly-modified TRO to that same webpage as well as on dedicated bulletin boards.
  • Each union member has to sign and date a form “stating that they have read and understand their obligation to comply… upon risk of being disciplined or fined….”
  • The senior union leadership has to send a notice to all mechanics with specific verbiage as approved by the judge that very sternly tells everyone to get back to work as usual.

This has to be done by this week, so in theory, American’s numbers should get back closer to normal. They haven’t yet, however.

The Immediate Impact

Even though the order only came down Wednesday night, I still thought it would be worth looking at operational numbers to see if anything changed quickly. Thankfully, masFlight was able to pull the Thursday-Saturday data for me yesterday.

American’s Thursday completion factor was a dismal 91.51 percent on Thursday. By Saturday it had climbed to 97.57 percent. That’s still not good. Meanwhile, on-time performance climbed as well in the same period. Thursday had departures exactly on time (D0) of 48.4 percent and arrivals within 14 minutes of schedule (A14) of 67.31 percent. By Saturday, it was up to 61 percent and 79.84 percent respectively.

There’s a lot of noise here considering we had Hurricane Barry messing with things down in the Gulf as well as the usual thunderstorms around the empire. And really, a three-day sample is far too small to glean any trends. So for now, I can’t really say whether this is going in the right direction or not. I can say, however, that when a day where an airline cancels 2.5 percent of flights and delays one in five starts to look good, you know the airline is not doing well.

Hopefully the operation will return from being poor to just being mediocre. (That’s the best we can hope for these days, it seems.) The permanent solution, of course, is to agree to a contract. That, however, seems pretty far away. I continue to look into that issue, so you can expect future posts.

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30 Responses to Unions Slapped for Not Obeying Temporary Restraining Order Granted to American

  1. Kilroy says:

    TWU/IAM needs to impress some key points upon its members… For example, the first rule of an effort to “work to rules” is that you do not talk about it, especially not within earshot of management. The second rule is that you definitely don’t call it a “slowdown”.

    I’m not overly sympathetic to the unions, personally, and will be booking away from American for the foreseeable future, but seriously, if union members are going to do a slowdown (or whatever you’d like to call it), at the very least they should use some of their dues to hire lawyers to educate them on how to make it plausibly deniable.

  2. A says:

    I know AA’s problems don’t lie with the average union line employee, but that being said I find it quite ironic that the industry leader among their peers is also the most non-unionized airline. Personally I haven’t paid much attention to AA’s labor issues and mostly believe their problems lie with the C-suite more than anything. But if I were an aircraft mechanic in the current environment I’d be thinking going the non-Union route at Delta and enjoying some of those billion dollar profit sharing plans would look pretty sweet.

    • Sean S. says:

      The only reason why Delta showers all those perks and wages on their employees is because of the fact that the rest of the industry is so heavily unionized. In segments where they can get away with under paying employees, such as in baggage handling, they put the definite screws to their employees.

      • Tim Dunn says:

        Sean,
        there is real data that compares airline employee productivity by workgroup and you can find it here.
        http://web.mit.edu/airlinedata/www/default.html
        as much as you want to believe otherwise, Delta does as well as it does because its employees are much more productive esp. in revenue generation than American and United’s employees.
        Delta’s employee metrics including compensation look more like Southwest’s than American’s or United’s and, not surprisingly, so do Delta’s bottom line finances.

        Much of Delta’s employee and bottom line finances are driven by Atlanta which is an enormously productive hub where nearly 1/3 of Delta’s employees work. Delta is a much more efficient airline than American or United and their employees are paid well because of long-standing decisions that are driven by the airline’s network.

        Many AA and UA employees would love to be compensated the way DL employees are. If you think otherwise, compare the amount of profit sharing that DL accrued just for the 2nd quarter to what AA and UA and every other airline will report.

        • Sean S. says:

          I don’t have to “want to believe” because that’s how pattern bargaining works. No one would disagree that the airline industry, as well as the rail industry, due to the nature of the NMB and labor law is dictated by pattern bargaining. There are literally reams upon reams of books and studies about the impact of pattern bargaining in the transportation sector. Just because you disagree does not make it so. Hell, here’s a break down Powerpoint of the nature of labor relations in the US industry. (https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/modes/air/events/doc/kochan.pdf) Productivity has nothing to do with it; if that were the case Amazon workers would be making bank. They don’t not because they aren’t productive, but because their industry is fragmented and there isn’t a pattern set in their industry.

        • Sean S. says:

          And I’m not talking abstractly here; I have been in contract negotiations across the table from management, argued in front of arbitrators in regards to internal and external patterns for wages etc.

          • Tim Dunn says:

            I don’t really care about your theses about union representation.
            I am responding to your statement that Delta employees are paid less.
            That is patently less, even in areas like baggage handling and there is data to show it which I provided you the link to.

            Delta employees are much more productive than their peers at American and United. Not quite as productive as Southwest’s employees – but Southwest connects a lot fewer passengers so their statistics are positively skewed compared to the legacy/global carriers.

            The growth of Delta’s focus cities continues to “help” Delta’s productivity because Delta is carrying more and more point to point/local passengers even with growth in its hubs. while American and United continue to focus almost exclusively on their hubs.

            The data does exist to show that Delta does not outsource significantly more than its peers even for non-maintenance functions and in fact outsources less maintenance than all but American. Delta also insources hundreds of millions of dollars of work from other airlines and the revenue from insourcing could easily surpass what Delta spends to maintain its own fleet.

            Delta employees are paid as well or better than their peers with comparable levels of outsourcing and have above average productivity. Delta’s largest workgroups achieve all of that without unions. You don’t have to believe those facts if you don’t want to but they are readily available for anyone to see which means you are simply incriminating yourself by making statements are clearly false.

        • chris says:

          Worker getting paid better is a direct consequence of company doing well, but company doing well probably has a lot to do with many many many things other than if workers are unionized.

  3. Trans World says:

    I used to be loyal to AA. And that began in 1985. But with continued cutbacks, negative attitudes of some of your front-line employees and a feeling that management doesn’t care about the customer experience I opened my eyes and looked around.

    Approximately 85% of my travel is domestic flights under 3 hours. Even as a top tier elite, upgrades are never a guarantee and falling short of that this year means securing even fewer upgrades. I did a status match last spring to Delta (when I was a lowly gold … to lowly silver) and immediately the difference was night and day. I was once greeted by name when boarding an aircraft…compare that with AA where some flight attendants can’t even be bothered to look up from their phones or stop a personal conversation between them. I have over 1.37 million AAdvantage miles and can rarely find premium seats.

    All of this has caused me to drop my loyalty recently. Being based in AUS, we are blessed with choices, especially since Delta has made AUS a focus city. The one great thing about AA is their Angels in their Admirals Club in AUS. Thy’re the best in the industry. And the ex-TWA employees who are still employed with them. They are the ones who should be running their employee training. But, I will miss their incessant and annoying credit card pitches. I will miss the AA flight attendants usually say “we know you have a choice of airlines” – thank you for reminding me to check out your competitors.So thank you AA for pushing my loyalty out of the window. It’s your loss.

    • JayB says:

      Just an observation, and a complaint, as usual. About flight attendants and their saying: ‘We know you have a choice of airlines,.” bless them, but, in today’s airline structure, with (1) the establishment, by the airlines, and often with the assistance of our National, State, and local representative, of “fortress hubs,” (not LAX, I presume), (2) the government’s seemingly willingness to allow any airline merger or consolidation offered up, and (3) the lack of authority of FTC to oversee/regulate those, what I call, unfair and deceptive frequent flier programs, we consumers have lost the ability to switch easily and prudently between and among airlines.

      Service competition in this industry is dead! And, consumers’ actions to have their travel agents simply get them on whatever’s the cheapest–what a crock, but who do you blame for this?

      I’m looking for a Cranky, in his free time(?), or some clone to make the consumer/airline marketplace more competitive, say, by Labor Day, OK? Just my opinion.

  4. Tim Dunn says:

    CF,
    All of the data that you cite, which comes directly from AA, have multiple factors that influence the data – and AA, and you, have only bothered to show the final data that supports the conclusion that the union is screwing the company. Overlay weather and ATC, the number of mechanics year over year for a large period of time and not just a week, and the amount of flight activity per aircraft and maybe these fairly small differences aren’t such a big deal.

    Now, factor in that ALOT of AA employees are unhappy because of the union itself and there is even less motivation for employees to care about whether the union – not the employees – get in trouble. No judge or the company can fine an individual employee for not accepting overtime, even if the union is fined. Many mechanics might be happy to see the dysfunctional two-union representation broken.

    Parker actively courted the employees to overthrow the former management’s restructuring plan, knew full well that AA had way too many employees in many categories including mechanics, and AA has been happy to keep the mechanics divided between pre-merger AA and US workgroups and unions for going on 6 years. That strategy has NEVER worked anywhere else and yet Parker and co. think they will manage to salvage AA as a company. The option of caving to the union w/ a contract as WN did does not exist because AA will still be overstaffed and is rapidly losing its premium customers who want nothing to do with the unreliable service that AA and UA are providing – which are due in part to their rolling hubs – which have nothing to do with the mechanics.

    Plot the number of flight arrivals per hour for AA, DL and UA’s hubs against the amount of time the majority of those flights are at the gate, against runway capacity and other airline flights and you will see that part of the problem is that AA and UA are trying to push too many flights through too small of a time frame compared to DL’s hubs – not all of which are tightly banked – and that is a big part of why AA and UA’s on-time has fallen TOGETHER after efforts to fully bank nearly all hubs at both airlines.

    You can and likely will continue to give us the blow by blow of AA’s labor-mgmt. problems but they are rooted in deeply flawed strategies that cannot and will not be fixed, no matter what a judge says. With a growing number of aging mechanics, no further accrual of DB pension benefits, and a strong US but economy w/ mechanics in high demand, there will be more and more employees that will stay w/ AA as long as they can but won’t be the least bit sad to see the company fail as the employees walk out the door. Union leadership has fueled that sentiment.

    This exact scenario has played out before, including at Eastern. AA is too big to merge with anyone and no one wants their labor problems or high costs anyway. The only likely outcome is another trip through bankruptcy for AA to tear up the labor contracts, further destroy morale, and allow competitors even more opportunity to win over AA’s top revenue customers.

    AA is in a no-win scenario and it goes all the way back to the basis for and design of the AA-US merger.

    • Eric C says:

      Why does everyone presume a lack of overtime is a work action? It’s human nature. When you’re pissed at a company your motivation to work extra drops to nill. Doesn’t matter the job or the company, but if workers are financially able to decline overtime they typically will.

      If American’s labor scheduling is dependent on overtime, they’ll find themselves short staffed and unable to complete maintenance tasks at the desired rate. I’d wager your stats for MELs and completed tasks tracks reasonably well with labor hours scheduled, with the shortfall being from lack of overtime. Unless they have the same number of labor hours worked now as before I’d be hesitant to call it a slowdown while at work.

      Voluntary overtime is voluntary, and very highly dependent on motivation. Wreck that motivation and no one volunteers.

      • Eric C says:

        Sorry, was meant to be a top level comment and not a reply, but i failed at mobile!

      • CF says:

        Eric – When employees regularly take overtime and then all of a sudden not a single person takes overtime at a station for an entire week, that is pretty clearly labor action. Taking overtime has never been about helping the company. It’s about making a bunch of money. As I understand it, I believe the mechanics in Philly get paid not only at least time and a half, but they get paid for either a half or full shift of overtime regardless of whether they have to work that much. So it can be very lucrative. The chance that nobody wants to make that cash for an entire week is pretty tiny.

        • Dan says:

          Maybe, maybe not. I worked as an hourly, non-union ramp worker for several years after college. I worked boat loads of overtime because I wanted the cash. But unless I have a union contract, I’ll be darned if anybody can *make* me work overtime. Sure, they can fire me, but if they’re already in a position where they’re short employees (hence mandatory overtime) getting rid of people is a bit of a self defeating purpose. I’ve never seen people face disciplinary action for refusing overtime. As you suggest, there’s always some broke fool willing to make a buck. Often that broke fool was me.

          While in that narrow sense the AA thing is an apple to oranges comparison, one has to look at the contract and see what it says. Unless there are minimum levels of overtime labor supply required by the contract, I have a really difficult time believing that a court of law can force people to work if they don’t want to (for whatever reason). In any decent contract, there will be penalties for breach or non-performance. Usually those penalties will be monetary in some way shape or form.

          Never mind that this whole thing is even a thing because the mechanics are working under a contract that has “become amendable.” Management can solve this problem pretty quick if they want to.

          But bottom line. Call me biased, but if I were on a jury, unworked overtime gets a pass from me. I’m never going to tell someone they must work it, unless they’ve already explicitly contractually agreed to it.

          • CF says:

            Dan – Thanks for your insights from the front line. To me, the key here is that there is always the one guy who needs the money. So would I be surprised to see overtime acceptance drop when things get contentious? Not at all. But to see it drop to zero, that’s when it starts to seem coordinated. It is a really slippery thing for a judge to rule one which is why I’ve generally been skeptical. In this case, it sounds like the biggest pain is just on the top union leaders who now have to go do a dog and pony show. The problem is, that isn’t going to change anything anyway.

            • Not looking forward to 2020 negotiations says:

              As union worker that often works overtime… But, this is added work covers my wants not my needs. When our labor group was picketing during negotiations, I only worked my base schedule because I didn’t enjoy going to work during that. It wasn’t worth the money to be in a hostile environment more than I had to be…

        • southbay flier says:

          Wow, that’s pretty generous in that if you work an extra hour, you can get 4 or 8 hours of time and a half.

          I agree that when I was an hourly, I didn’t work overtime for the good of the company, I did it for the money.

        • Matt D says:

          Brett: unless you can say otherwise, that’s still at best, a circumstantial argument. Albeit a very strong one. But unless you have actual written and/or oral proof, I would still think it’s just that…circumstantial.

          To use a similar example. I would be willing to testify under oath that yes, collusion, manipulation, and insider trading is rampant in the fuel business. I’ve seen it countless time, done countless ways. But could I actually prove it? No. Most or all traders and supply managers are masters at covering their tracks. That is why to my knowledge, not a single instance of conviction for those crimes has ever happened in the US, even though it happens industrywide and daily.

          • CF says:

            Matt D – There’s also evidence of management overhearing people talking about it. Remember, we aren’t looking at damages here. This modified TRO simply tells the unions to get more serious about telling workers to stop taking any action. Considering the evidence that’s out there, this seems reasonable even though it’s unlikely the action was being done at the highest levels.

    • CF says:

      Tim – A few thoughts…

      > All of the data that you cite, which comes directly from AA, have multiple factors that influence the data – and AA, and you, have only > bothered to show the final data that supports the conclusion that the union is screwing the company. Overlay weather and ATC, the > number of mechanics year over year for a large period of time and not just a week, and the amount of flight activity per aircraft and maybe > these fairly small differences aren’t such a big deal.
      Are you suggesting that AA is lying? That’s a pretty serious accusation.
      Experts have looked over the data and testified that the chances of this occurring normally are insanely small. That is also in the court filings.
      It’s pretty clear that there is some action occurring. The hard part in my mind is proving that it’s actually being coordinated, but at least some of the examples seem quite clear. It doesn’t suggest at what level the coordination is occurring, but it is very likely that it is happening.

      > Now, factor in that ALOT of AA employees are unhappy because of the union itself and there is even less motivation for employees to care > about whether the union – not the employees – get in trouble. No judge or the company can fine an individual employee for not accepting overtime, > even if the union is fined. Many mechanics might be happy to see the dysfunctional two-union representation broken.

      That’s not what the modified TRO says. It says that if the employees don’t get back to work as normal (good luck defining that), then they can be fined. I assume the way this gets looked at is if the aggregate numbers don’t return to normal, then action can be taken (and it the unions’ responsibility to do those) on those they assume are putting the organization together. But I don’t know. And frankly, any kind of action like that is not going to be good for American or the unions. So they should hope it doesn’t come to that.

      > Plot the number of flight arrivals per hour for AA, DL and UA’s hubs against the amount of time the majority of those flights are at the gate, against > runway capacity and other airline flights and you will see that part of the problem is that AA and UA are trying to push too many flights through too > small of a time frame compared to DL’s hubs – not all of which are tightly banked – and that is a big part of why AA and UA’s on-time has fallen > TOGETHER after efforts to fully bank nearly all hubs at both airlines.

      Of course. As I said, the hope is that the ending of a labor action would return American to just operating a mediocre operation. The airline can’t blame this all on labor, and management is largely responsible. But the labor slowdown is happening and is contributing. These are different issues.

      > This exact scenario has played out before, including at Eastern. AA is too big to merge with anyone and no one wants their labor problems > or high costs anyway. The only likely outcome is another trip through bankruptcy for AA to tear up the labor contracts, further destroy > morale, and allow competitors even more opportunity to win over AA’s top revenue customers.

      Comparing this to Eastern is over the top. American is already offering an “industry-leading” contract here. Best I can tell, this is about scope on one side and possibly benefits on the other, though the IAM won’t talk to me. To me, scope is the big issue, and that’s the post I’m working on now. American will guarantee everyone a job that has one, but they won’t guaranteed a minimum headcount. If the unions think that this will cut their membership significantly over time, there’s no reason for them to give in. Their job is self preservation. Members may feel differently since they care about their own well-being over the unions’ but the membership hasn’t had the chance to vote anyway.

      • Tim Dunn says:

        Thanks for replying, CF.
        AA pulled together some data by THEIR chosen experts that presents their position and without an iota of cross-examination of the data as part of the process of determining if a restraint is necessary. TROs often do not require a high level of cross-examination – and as Kevin Mitchell noted – there wasn’t any validation of the data as being the complete and accurate picture. If the case goes to damages, then you can bet that the unions will make a case that the data the company is presenting is not accurate.
        No, a court cannot fine an individual for refusing to work overtime. If there are specific individuals that continue to tell employees not to work overtime or engage in job actions, then, yes, they potentially can be fined. But AA’s metric is how many people work overtime and that is not a defensible metric AS LONG AS THE UNION has said that employees cannot engage in their own self-help.
        As I previously noted, AA’s completion rates and on-time performance are not markedly different from UA’s. As long as there is a fairly small statistical difference between AA and its most direct competitors, then it will be incredibly difficult to argue that AA’s employees are the problem, no matter how much there might be anecdotal evidence that a person here or there on his own has decided not to work overtime.

        The real issue is that Parker painted himself into a corner in the merger with too many employees and esp. mechanics. That is the fundamental problem and it is one that costs AA nearly $500 million dollars in extra maintenance expense per year compared to DL and $300 million compared to UA – and those numbers do include outsourced maintenance.
        AA can fight its unions but it won’t solve the problem of overstaffing. Yes, scope is the issue and unions are simply not going to sell 1/3 of their dues revenue down the river. No airline has ever managed to cut headcount that much and still maintain a viable airline. Every major reduction in maintenance jobs in the airline industry has come through bankruptcy or, in the case of NW, a concerted effort to break the union which significantly harmed NW.
        Parker made the conscious effort to quickly sign joint merger agreements with the pilots and FAs to get the merger on track operationally but mechanics have always been the most problematic group in every major long-term airline labor dispute.
        I don’t think the comparison to Eastern is out of place at all. The labor problems existed for years before Eastern’s final flight and the company simply could not fix them. American, like Eastern, has a bloated workforce not because of employee actions but because the current workforce is largely the sum of AA and US’ employee numbers at the time of the merger. Add in that AA had problematic parts of its network from a revenue standpoint long before the merger – specifically NYC and Chicago international as well as Asia – as did US – and the merger was a quickly cobbled together power struggle which glossed over major cost and revenue problems which simply did not exist with the Delta or United mergers.
        My question to you is what you really think will solve AA’s maintenance overstaffing. Mechanics are highly paid but they also are highly skilled. You can’t just dump them and expect an airline to keep going. Given that a lot of other American labor groups are sympathetic to the mechanics because of Parker’s actions towards them and their dissatisfaction with how the company is being run and AA is in a much worse hole to climb out of than even NW when it broke AMFA.
        I don’t think there is any solution short of a bankruptcy or breaking the union – both of which will have far larger impacts on AA’s customers than for AA to permanently have much higher costs than its peers and much lower profits.

        • Dan says:

          Re: Breaking the NW union.

          I remember that, and was curious how management was able to pull it off. Apparently there were political issues with the union and the strike from day one, and it was doomed to fail. For whatever reason, the other work groups at NW didn’t support the strike, which made it easy pickings for management.

          One thing that AA has working against them with their PR battle is that they’re running a very heavy DFW schedule this summer. Problem with a schedule that tight is that if *anything* gets out of whack the ripple effects are enormous. To your point about cherry picking data, if the union gets consultants worth their salt, you can bet the union will be tearing that piece to shreds.

          To your point about revenue problems before the merger, specifically NYC and ORD international. OMFG — these are potentially some of the most lucrative aspects of an airline route network. Screw that up, and the hill gets that much steeper.

        • CF says:

          Tim – Well that’s just the problem. There isn’t a solution. The next post on this that I’m working on (hopefully up later this week) is exploring the scope issue. And the conclusion is that there is no solution unless one side figures out how to soften their stance. It’s unlikely that will happen, so we just sit at a stalemate.

          • Tim Dunn says:

            We’ll see if there is a capitulation by one side but I too seriously doubt it will happen which means we are basically just watching a long soap opera play out and we know the final chapter. Given that both sides have very little to lose by ratcheting the process up another notch or two and everything to lose if the other side “wins,” there is little reason to be optimistic about a peaceful outcome.

            AA is just not making enough money to be able to absorb a lot of excess costs; Parker knows they either have to address the problem now or AA will never achieve profitability even remotely close to the rest of the industry – which is why AAL’s market cap is so much lower than its peers.

            I will look forward to your article on scope but the future of two unions – in an environment where unionization in the US is already under deep attack – is at stake. On the other side, we have the future of the current world’s largest airline in doubt if they can’t get this labor overstaffing situation and their cost problem fixed.

  5. This judge has NEVER ruled in favor of unions. He took the new restrictions and requirements proposed by American and crossed out “proposed” and signed it. Pathetic. Should be reported on.

  6. Rich says:

    With the myriad of problems at AA shouldn’t the clock be ticking on management? It is long past time to replace leadership. And I’m not taking the union side on the labor issue. AA just has been a mess. I don’t fly much although I do have AA status, gold, but I’ve stuck to delta this year.

    • CF says:

      Rich – This is a good question. It’s really up to the board to make that determination, and they might be onboard with the current strategy.

      • Tim Dunn says:

        even the board has to ask the question about how to extricate AA out of the present situation and I doubt if there are any more great solutions than have been discussed here or elsewhere – or that Parker could have thought of.

        AA is overstaffed esp. w/ mechanics as a result of the merger and there will be no clean or easy way to get AA’s employee costs down.

        Absent that taking place, AA will continue to operate with a huge millstone around its neck.

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